I wasn’t overly concerned about the Detroit Lions, even though it was in Detroit. Playing on the road in the NFL is tough, and the saying “any given Sunday” exists for a reason.
The league likes having the vast majority of its teams in the middle class, and typically I would be concerned about the Cincinnati Bengals going on the road to play against any team. The Lions aren’t just any team, though. They’re very bad.
I figured the Bengals would win, so my only worry was them looking bad while they won. That worry existed until the end of the first drive of the second half.
In the end, the Bengals finally put some points up on the board, beating the Lions 34-11. It would have been a shutout if not for some garbage time scoring by the Lions.
Here are some things that went right, some that didn’t and a look ahead at next Sunday’s divisional game in Baltimore.
Rookie of the Year
Sewell or Chase. Chase or Sewell. No topic divided Bengals fans more this past draft season. I can see the argument both sides were making. The Sewell camp’s argument was to protect the future of the franchise, quarterback Joe Burrow. The Chase camp’s argument was to give the future of the franchise a new and exciting toy to play with in wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and sign free agent offensive linemen. The latter is how the offseason played out.
There’s little reason to argue anymore about which was the right move. However, it’s also hard to argue with 553 yards and five touchdowns, which not only leads all rookie receivers, but it’s also good for fourth most yards in the NFL so far.
Chase’s best play wasn’t one of his receptions on Sunday, though. It was a great block downfield on safety Will Harris that led to a Joe Mixon touchdown. How many rookie wide receivers make this play?
Harry and the Hendrickson
Just like the Chase pop culture references, I’m having a hard time coming up with new ones for Trey Hendrickson. The guy has been a beast. He was in the backfield all day long, logging another sack, of which he now has 5.5 on the season. He would have had another as he chased down Jared Goff from behind, but the Lions quarterback was able to get just past the line of scrimmage. It’s clear that Hendrickson was worth every penny.
Down With the Sickness
Rookie right guard Jackson Carman’s status for the Lion’s game was up in the air due to him being on the COVID-19 list. He was only able to play 23 snaps on Sunday before he was taken to the locker room after he got sick on the field. Fellow rookie offensive lineman Trey Hill took over for him after that, playing the other 49 snaps.
Carman allowed one hit on Burrow but excelled as a run blocker against the Lions. Hill didn’t allow any pressures and wasn’t terrible as a run blocker, but he wasn’t as good as Carman, according to Pro Football Focus.
Xavier Su’a-Filo is still injured and the starting right guard job is probably Carman’s to lose, but it’s nice that Hill has some game experience should his number be called.
Linebacker Logan Wilson had another solid game, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that safety Jessie Bates isn’t the only Bengals defender the team is going to have to pony up to keep around. He had another interception on Sunday, his fourth of the year, which is second in the league behind Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Wilson has been great in coverage, but he’s also been solid against the run as well. He’s possibly the most complete linebacker the Bengals have had on the roster in a very long time.
Nobody puts baby in the cornerback
Replacing cornerback William Jackson III with the duo of Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie in free agency has turned out to be a great move for the Bengals secondary. Awuzie has been the best coverage corner on the roster. If you take out players with less than 100 snaps in coverage, PFF ranks Awuzie as the fifth-best defender when it comes to pass coverage in the NFL so far this season. He had an incredible leaping pass break up on Sunday in Detroit, and looks every bit like a shutdown cornerback every great defense has.
The Bengals head to Baltimore to face off against the 5-1 Ravens. Here are a few things that can be expected against their division rival.
- Quarterback Lamar Jackson is looking like his old MVP self, having thrown for 1,686 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes, tossing nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also rushed for 392 yards and two more touchdowns, including five rushes of 20 or more yards, which is tied with running back Nick Chubb for most in the NFL.
- Wide receiver Marquise Brown has been one of Jackson’s primary targets on the year. He has racked up 486 yards and five touchdowns so far on the season, but he’ll be joined by rookie wide out Rashod Bateman, who was activated off IR in Week 6. He was obviously drafted by the Ravens in the first round for a reason. The biggest receiving threat the Bengals need to be aware of, though, is likely tight end Mark Andrews, who has caught 34 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns.
- The Ravens defense has been stingy against the run, only allowing an average of of 82 yards on the ground per game and 4.1 yards per carry. They have been much more susceptible to the pass, having allowed the seventh most past yards so far this season. This would likely be a good game for Joe Burrow to be unleashed.
- The Ravens defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 14 times, which ties them with the Bengals, Broncos, Packers and Bills for sixth most in the NFL (this was written before the Bills completed their Monday night game against the Titans). The Bengals offensive line needs to be prepared for extra pressure.
To wrap things up, some random Week 6 thoughts
- How many rookie wide receivers get in front of Mixon and make that block, especially as well as Chase did?
- I’m tired of watching the offense wake up in the second half. I want to see a complete Bengals offensive game in which they play the whole time like they did in the second half against the Lions and Jaguars.
- The Bengals defense is unbelievably improved so far this season. Lou Anarumo has made a believer out of me.
- I understand that on an offensive with this many mouths to feed, there will be games where talented players are left out. I would like to see C.J. Uzomah get involved in the offense more, though.
- Joe Burrow has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his six games so far this season. He is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least two touchdowns in his first six games of his first or second season in the league. The other quarterback is Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
- Speaking of Burrow. He has now played in 16 NFL games, and in those 16 games he has completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,228 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for an overall passer rating of 95.3. Not bad.
- Burrow was three of three on deep passes on Sunday in Detroit. Remember when he struggled to connect on deep passes in 2020?
- Rookie running back Chris Evans looked impressive, especially as a receiver on Sunday. He scored the team’s first touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Burrow when he was being covered one-on-one by a linebacker. Don’t be surprised to see Evans on the field a lot more often.
- The Ravens opened up as 6.5 point favorites in Week 7. I’m not saying the Bengals WILL win, but I will say that they can win. Then they go to New York to face the Jets, where they should win. Can you imagine going into Week 9 with a 6-2 record?